Back in 2008, British Airways announced that it would be relaunching a premium service between London and New York, in order to loosely replace the Concorde service that had ceased some five years previously. There were to be a few differences however, the most obvious being that the service was no longer operated by Concorde. The other was that rather than depart from London Heathrow, the new service would depart from the heart of London, using London City Airport. The key drawback with using this airport was that the runway was a little on the short side. To combat this issue, the airline purchased a pair of Airbus A318 aircraft, the smallest of the popular A320 line which due to enhanced approach capabilities was able to operate into the airport. However, operating out of the airport was still a challenge, therefore the planes had to be short fuelled and make a pit stop in Shannon to top up the tanks in order to make the Atlantic crossing. This allowed passengers to pre-clear US customs and speed up their exit in JFK as they would be arriving as a domestic passenger.
The aircraft arrived in August 2009 and the service commenced a month later, using the previous Concorde flight numbers of BA001/2 and BA003/4. The were set up in an all Business Class layout featuring just 32 seats on board. Curiously, in 2012, a separate airline was set up to run these services, British Airways Ltd. Although the reasoning behind this was never really made public. The new airline didn’t stick around too long however and the aircraft were transferred back to BA mainline in 2015. Fast forward to 2016 and cuts were soon to be made. The second flight was to be cut, in part due to the fact that this service wasn’t able to make use of the US pre clearance in Shannon – one of the key selling points of the service, as well as declining load factors.
With the cutback of the second service, BA simply didn’t have a need for a second A318, and G-EUNB was removed from service. Rumours at the time suggested maybe it could head off to Heathrow to operate some of the more premium heavy short haul routes. Or perhaps could be reconfigured with the standard BA shorthaul cabin. These rumours we laid to rest however when in May 2017 it was announced the aircraft would be transferred to charter operator Titan Airlines after sitting in storage since the previous month.
Other than the removal of the British Airways livery, the plane is more or less the same as when it operated for British Airways. It still features the all business layout, although Titan state that they can provide a couple of configurations to match customers needs.
Regarding routes, the aircraft really could end up anywhere. In the previous few months it has been seen at its old favourite, New York JFK as well as Liverpool, Baku, Seoul, Dubai, Bogota, San Jose, Lima… As I mentioned, pretty much anywhere it’s required.
Good to see this interesting plane still living an interesting life! Although having said that, the last time the aircraft was seen, it had flown into St. Athan where many of the British Airways 767’s and 747’s were scrapped, so watch this space…
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